These sports left their mark on Medieval Sherwood Forest through the presence of the great royal deer parks of Clipstone, Bestwood and the Castle Park.
Football was played in Nottingham in the Medieval period (Foulds in Beckett 2006), and luckily there were 'bonesetters' in the town to deal with the casualties!
Ian Mortimer in his Time travellers guide to the 14th century (2008) suggests that the only rules associated with football at the time were those banning it!
This suggests official backing as such a site could hardly be deemed an underground venue, located as it was on the Kings own manor of Arnold. Interestingly it is now under a modern day a golf course…
|Picture: Exerpt from the 1609 Crown Survey of Sherwood Forest by Richard bankes. (Mastoris and Groves 1998).|
The Major Oak in the Sherwood Forest National Nature Reserve (believed to be 1,000 years old and the hideaway of Robin Hood) was itself at one time known as the 'Cock-Pen Tree', because many feathery pugilists were reputidly stored within its mighty trunk between competitions.
The poem about the hero Gamelyn dating from the 14th century tells of a wrestling match- which the hero wins- where the traditional prize is a Ram. Wrestling too was a popular sport. As were many trials of strength (the most obvious being the tournament- originally embodied by the melee and later by the joust- see the Melee and Jousting: Tournaments in Medieval Sherwood Forest entry for more details).
The Bishop of Rochester suggested wrestling belonged in the same category as glutony, and chatting idly in the market, and anything else that distracted the populace from listening to the sermons' (Mortimer 2008).
Obviously gambling played a major part in contests between animals, and those between people. As well as this people played dice, quoits, cards, and horse racing.
According to Mortimer tennis would take place when a net was strung across the street- with extra points for hitting the ball through peoples windows- needless to say it was not popular with many townsfolk!